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Bach and the Patterns of Invention
Laurence Dreyfus
Harvard University Press, 2004

In this major new interpretation of the music of J. S. Bach, we gain a striking picture of the composer as a unique critic of his age. By reading Bach’s music “against the grain” of contemporaries such as Vivaldi and Telemann, Laurence Dreyfus explains how Bach’s approach to musical invention in a variety of genres posed a fundamental challenge to Baroque aesthetics.

“Invention”—the word Bach and his contemporaries used for the musical idea that is behind or that generates a composition—emerges as an invaluable key in Dreyfus’s analysis. Looking at important pieces in a range of genres, including concertos, sonatas, fugues, and vocal works, he focuses on the fascinating construction of the invention, the core musical subject, and then shows how Bach disposes, elaborates, and decorates it in structuring his composition. Bach and the Patterns of Invention brings us fresh understanding of Bach’s working methods, and how they differed from those of the other leading composers of his day. We also learn here about Bach’s unusual appropriations of French and Italian styles—and about the elevation of various genres far above their conventional status.

Challenging the restrictive lenses commonly encountered in both historical musicology and theoretical analysis, Dreyfus provocatively suggests an approach to Bach that understands him as an eighteenth-century thinker and at the same time as a composer whose music continues to speak to us today.

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Bach
Essays on His Life and Music
Christoph Wolff
Harvard University Press, 1991

Johann Sebastian Bach holds a singular position in the history of music. A uniquely gifted musician, he combined outstanding performing virtuosity with supreme creative powers and remarkable intellectual discipline. More than two centuries after his lifetime, Bach’s work continues to set musical standards.

The noted Bach scholar Christoph Wolff offers in this book new perspectives on the composer’s life and remarkable career. Uncovering important historical evidence, the author demonstrates significant influences on Bach’s artistic development and brings fresh insight on his work habits, compositional intent, and the musical traditions that shaped Bach’s thought. Wolff reveals a composer devoted to an ambitious and highly individual creative approach, one characterized by constant self-criticism and self-challenge, the absorption of new skills and techniques, and the rethinking of riches from the musical past.

Readers will find illuminating analyses of some of Bach’s greatest music, including the B Minor Mass, important cantatas, keyboard and chamber compositions, the Musical Offering, and the Art of Fugue. Discussion of how these pieces “work” will be helpful to performers—singers, players, conductors—and to everyone interested in exploring the conceptual and contextual aspects of Bach’s music. All readers will find especially interesting those essays in which Wolff elaborates on his celebrated discoveries of previously unknown works: notably the fourteen “Goldberg” canons and a collection of thirty-three chorale preludes.

Representing twenty-five years of scholarship, these essays—half of which appear here in English for the first time—have established Christoph Wolff as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on J. S. Bach. All students, performers, and lovers of Bach’s music will find this an engaging and enlightening book.

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Bach Perspectives, Volume 10
Bach and the Organ
Matthew Dirst
University of Illinois Press, 2016
The official publication of the American Bach Society, Bach Perspectives pioneers new areas of research into the life, times, and music of the master composer. In Volume 10 of the series, Matthew Dirst edits a collection of groundbreaking essays exploring various aspects of Bach's organ-related activities. Lynn Edwards Butler reconsiders Bach's report on Johann Scheibe's organ at St. Paul's Church in Leipzig. Robin Leaver clarifies the likely provenance and purpose of a collection of chorale harmonizations copied in Dresden. George Stauffer investigates the ways various independent trio movements served Bach as an artist and teacher. In separate contributions, Christoph Wolff and Gregory Butler seek the origins of concerted Bach cantata movements spotlighting the organ and propose family trees of both parent works and offspring. Finally, Matthew Cron provides a broad cultural frame for such pieces and notes how their components engage in a larger discourse about the German Baroque organ's intimation of heaven.
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Bach Perspectives, Volume 12
Bach and the Counterpoint of Religion
Edited by Robin A. Leaver
University of Illinois Press, 2018
Johann Sebastian Bach was a Lutheran and much of his music was for Lutheran liturgical worship. As these insightful essays in the twelfth volume of Bach Perspectives demonstrate, he was also influenced by--and in turn influenced--different expressions of religious belief. The vocal music, especially the Christmas Oratorio, owes much to medieval Catholic mysticism, and the evolution of the B minor Mass has strong Catholic connections. In Leipzig, Catholic and Lutheran congregations sang many of the same vernacular hymns. Internal squabbles were rarely missing within Lutheranism, for example Pietists' dislike of concerted church music, especially if it employed specific dance forms. Also investigated here are broader issues such as the close affinity between Bach's cantata libretti and the hymns of Charles Wesley; and Bach's music in the context of the Jewish Enlightenment as shaped by Protestant Rationalism in Berlin. Contributors: Rebecca Cypess, Joyce L. Irwin, Robin A. Leaver, Mark Noll, Markus Rathey, Derek Stauff, and Janice B. Stockigt.
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Bach Perspectives, Volume 13
Bach Reworked
Edited by Laura Buch
University of Illinois Press, 2020
Scholars and performers have long noted J.S. Bach's abundant use of parody procedures: that is, the recycling and reworking of pre-existing material from his own compositions or from other sources. Laura Buch edits essays exploring how the composer parodied the work of others and how other composers did the same with him. The contributors delve into the works of Baroque-era composers from Bach himself to C. P. E. Bach, Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, and Ferruccio Busoni. But they also cast a wider net, investigating the ways Bach's music cross-pollinates with contemporary composer-performers John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet, and keyboardist Bernie Worrell and Parliament-Funkadelic. The diverse contexts illuminate a broad range of parody techniques, from structural scaffolding and contrapuntal elaboration to integration with stylistic languages far removed from the Baroque.
 
An insightful look at how composers build on each other's work, Bach Reworked reveals how nuanced understandings of parody procedures can fuel both musical innovation and historically informed performance.
 
Contributors: Stephen A. Crist, Ellen Exner, Moira Leanne Hill, Erinn E. Knyt, and Markus Zepf
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Bach Perspectives, Volume 14
Bach and Mozart: Connections, Patterns, and Pathways
Edited by Paul Corneilson
University of Illinois Press, 2022
Today, the names Bach and Mozart are mostly associated with Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But this volume of Bach Perspectives offers essays on the lesser-known musical figures who share those illustrious names alongside new research on the legendary composers themselves. Topics include the keyboard transcriptions of J. S. Bach and Johann Gottfried Walther; J. S. Bach and W. A. Mozart's freelance work; the sonatas of C. P. E. Bach and Leopold Mozart; the early musical training given J. C. Bach by his father and half-brother; the surprising musical similarities between J. C. Bach and W. A. Mozart; and the latest documentary research on Mozart’s 1789 visit to the Thomasschule in Leipzig.

An official publication of the American Bach Society, Bach Perspectives, Volume 14 draws on a variety of approaches and a broad range of subject matter in presenting a new wave of innovative classical musical scholarship.

Contributors: Eleanor Selfridge-Field, Yoel Greenberg, Noelle M. Heber, Michael Maul, Stephen Roe, and David Schulenberg

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Bach Perspectives, Volume 6
J. S. Bach's Concerted Ensemble Music, The Ouverture
Edited by Gregory Butler
University of Illinois Press, 2005

The sixth volume in the Bach Perspectives series opens with Joshua Rifkin's seminal study of the early source history of the B-minor orchestral suite. Rifkin elaborates on his discovery that the work in its present form for solo flute goes back to an earlier version in A minor, ostensibly for solo violin. He also takes the discovery as the point of departure for a wide-ranging discussion of the origins and extent of Bach's output in the area of concerted ensemble music. 

In other essays, Jeanne Swack presents an enlightening comparison of Georg Phillip Telemann's and Bach's approach to the French overture as concerted movements in their church cantatas. Steven Zohn views the B-minor orchestral suite from the standpoint of the "concert en ouverture." In addition, Zohn responds to Rifkin by suggesting Bach may have scored the early version of the B-minor orchestral suite for flute.

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Bach Perspectives, Volume 7
J. S. Bach's Concerted Ensemble Music: The Concerto
Edited by Gregory Butler
University of Illinois Press, 2007
J. S. Bach's creativity is so overwhelming his compositions in some genres eclipse his work in others. His glorious choral works, profound organ compositions, and exquisite solo compositions for violin and cello attract the most attention. Volume Seven of Bach Perspectives restores Bach's concertos to their rightful place of honor.

Gregory Butler focuses on Bach's Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in E Major (BWV 1053) as a pastiche created by a process of assemblage of three earlier heterogeneous movements. Pieter Dirksen delves into the source history of the Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in F Minor (BWV 1056) and concludes it represents a transcription of an earlier violin concerto in G minor. David Schulenberg investigates the generic ambiguity of the concerto in the early eighteenth century and how it diverged from the sonata to become a distinct genre. Completing the volume is Christoph Wolff's examination of the ""Siciliano"" as a slow movement in Bach's concertos and its implications for the source history of his Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in E Major (BWV 1053).

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Bach Perspectives, Volume 8
J.S. Bach and the Oratorio Tradition
Edited by Daniel R. Melamed
University of Illinois Press, 2011
As the official publication of the American Bach Society, Bach Perspectives has pioneered new areas of research in the life, times, and music of Bach since its first appearance in 1995. Volume 8 of Bach Perspectives emphasizes the place of Bach's oratorios in their repertorial context.
 
These essays consider Bach's oratorios from a variety of perspectives: in relation to models, antecedents, and contemporary trends; from the point of view of musical and textual types; and from analytical vantage points including links with instrumental music and theology.
 

Christoph Wolff suggests the possibility that Bach's three festive works for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension Day form a coherent group linked by liturgy, chronology, and genre. Daniel R. Melamed considers the many ways in which Bach's passion music was influenced by the famous poetic passion of Barthold Heinrich Brockes. Markus Rathey examines the construction and role of oratorio movements that combine chorales and poetic texts (chorale tropes). Kerala Snyder shows the connections between Bach's Christmas Oratorio and one of its models, Buxtehude's Abendmusiken spread over many evenings. Laurence Dreyfus argues that Bach thought instrumentally in the composition of his passions at the expense of certain aspects of the text. And Eric Chafe demonstrates the contemporary theological background of Bach's Ascension Oratorio and its musical realization

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Bach Perspectives, Volume 9
J.S. Bach and His Contemporaries in Germany
Edited by Andrew Talle
University of Illinois Press, 2013
This provocative addition to the Bach Perspectives series offers a counternarrative to the isolated genius status that J. S. Bach and his music currently enjoy. Contributors contextualize Bach by examining the output, reputation, and compositional practices of his contemporaries in Germany whose work was widely played and enjoyed in his time, including Georg Philipp Telemann, Christoph Graupner, Gottlieb Muffat, and Johann Adolf Scheibe. Essays place Bach and his work in relation to his peers, examining avenues of composition they took while he did not and showing how differing treatments of the same subjects or texts resulted in markedly different compositional results and legacies. By looking closely at how Bach's contemporaries addressed the tasks and challenges of their time, this project provides a more nuanced view of the musical world of Bach's time while revealing in more specific terms than ever how and why Bach's own music remains fresh and compelling.

In this volume, Wolfgang Hirschmann proposes an ethnographic approach that contextualizes Bach's works, addressing the aesthetic paths he took as well as those he did not pursue. Steven Zohn's essay considers Telemann's contribution to the orchestral Ouverture genre, observering how Telemann's approach to integrating the national styles of his time was quite different from, but no less rich than, Bach's. Andrew Talle compares settings and strategies of Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust by Bach and Graupner. Alison Dunlop presents valuable primary research on Muffat, the most commonly cited keyboard music composer in Vienna during Bach's lifetime. Finally, Michael Maul sheds new light on the Scheibe-Birnbaum controversy, contextualizing the most famous critique of J. S. Bach's compositional style by discussing the other composers that Scheibe critiqued.

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Bach’s Continuo Group
Players and Practices in His Vocal Works
Laurence Dreyfus
Harvard University Press
When Bach’s cantatas, masses, passions, and chorales were originally performed under the composer’s direction, which instruments played the basso continuo, the line that establishes the harmonic framework? Bach’s Continuo Group answers this and other fundamental questions and probes the rationale behind Baroque performance conventions.
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Becoming What We Are
Classical and Christian Readings of Modernity
Jude P. Dougherty
Catholic University of America Press, 2023
Becoming What We Are is a collection of essays and reviews written in the last decade by the late Jude Dougherty, which covey a perspective on contemporary events and literature, written from a classical and Christian perspective. These essays convey a worldview much in need of restating when, according to Dougherty, Western society seems to have lost its bearings, in its legislative assemblies and in its judicial systems as well. Dougherty writes as a philosopher, specifically as one who has devoted most of his life to the study of metaphysics. In these pages Dougherty examines the Jacobians, the empirical world of Hume, Locke and Hobbes, and Kant, the metaphysics of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and Aquinas that opens one to God and provides on with a moral compass, and critiques the work of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and John Dewey. Becoming What We Are spends some time inquiring into the character of a few great men viz. George Washington, Charles De Gaulle and Moses Maimonides. Dougherty draws upon and shows respect for numerous contemporary authors who are engaged in research and analysis similar to his. The intent is, with the aid of others to restate some ancient but neglected truths. But more than that to show that true science is possible, that nature and human nature yield to human enquiry, that science is not to be confused with description and prediction.
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Beethoven
A Political Artist in Revolutionary Times
William Kinderman
University of Chicago Press, 2021
We have long regarded Beethoven as a great composer, but we rarely appreciate that he was also an eminently political artist. This book unveils the role of politics in his oeuvre, elucidating how the inherently political nature of Beethoven’s music explains its power and endurance.

William Kinderman presents Beethoven as a civically engaged thinker faced with severe challenges. The composer lived through many tumultuous events—the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Congress of Vienna among them. Previous studies of Beethoven have emphasized the importance of his personal suffering and inner struggles; Kinderman instead establishes that musical tensions in works such as the Eroica, the Appassionata, and his final piano sonata in C minor reflect Beethoven’s attitudes toward the political turbulence of the era. Written for the 250th anniversary of his birth, Beethoven takes stock of the composer’s legacy, showing how his idealism and zeal for resistance have ensured that masterpieces such as the Ninth Symphony continue to inspire activists around the globe. Kinderman considers how the Fifth Symphony helped galvanize resistance to fascism, how the Sixth has energized the environmental movement, and how Beethoven’s civic engagement continues to inspire in politically perilous times. Uncertain times call for ardent responses, and, as Kinderman convincingly affirms, Beethoven’s music is more relevant today than ever before.
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Beethoven Essays
Maynard Solomon
Harvard University Press, 1988

Maynard Solomon is the author of a classic biography of Beethoven which has become a standard work throughout the world, having been translated into seven languages. In Beethoven Essays, he continues his exploration of Beethoven’s inner life, visionary outlook, and creativity, in a series of profound studies of this colossal figure of our civilization.

Solomon deftly fuses a variety of investigative approaches, from rigorous historical and ideological studies to imaginative musical and psychoanalytic speculations. Thus, after closely documenting Beethoven’s birth and illegitimacy fantasies, his “Family Romance,” and his pretense of nobility, Solomon offers extraordinary interpretations of the composer’s dreams, deafness, and obsessive relationship to his nephew. And, following his detailed uncovering of a complex network of recurrent patterns in the Ninth Symphony, he considers the narrative and mythic implications of Beethoven’s formal design.

Solomon examines the broad patterns of Beethoven’s creative evolution and processes of composition, the radical modernism of his music, and his intellectual, religious, and utopian strivings. A separate section on the “Immortal Beloved” includes the fullest biography of Antonia Brentano yet published. Closing the volume is Solomon’s translation and annotated edition of Beethoven’s Tagebuch, the moving, intimate diary that the composer kept during the critical period that culminated in his last style. Here, as throughout Beethoven Essays, Solomon offers scholarship that is at the cutting edge of Beethoven research.

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Beethoven Essays
Studies in Honor of Elliot Forbes
Lewis Lockwood
Harvard University Press, 1984
Significant new insights into Beethoven's life and style are offered in this volume in honor of Elliot Forbes, whose revision of Thayer's Life of Beethoven is the standard modern edition of that classic. Essays by James Webster, Martin Staehelin, Alan Tyson, Maynard Solomon, and Michael Ochs look carefully at aspects of Beethoven's career and also deal with Thayer and his work as biographer. Studies of individual works include Edward T. Cone's completion of an unfinished cadenza for the First Piano Concerto and Geoffrey Block's look at sources for the Second Piano Concerto. Sieghard Brandenburg provides an essay on the scherzo of the Fifth Symphony based on an exhaustive scrutiny of its sources. Christopher Reynolds writes on the Violin Sonata Op. 30, no. 1. J. Merrill Knapp contributes an article on the Mass in C major, Op. 86, and Robert Winter discusses the origins of the Missa solemnis, Op. 123.
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Beethoven for a Later Age
Living with the String Quartets
Edward Dusinberre
University of Chicago Press, 2016
Beethoven’s sixteen string quartets are some of the most extraordinary and challenging pieces of music ever written. Originally composed and performed between 1798 and 1826, they have inspired artists of all kinds—not only musicians—and have been subject to endless reinterpretation. But what is it like to personally take up the challenge of these compositions, not only as a musician, but as a member of a quartet, where each player has ideas about style and expression? To answer this question, Edward Dusinberre, first violinist of the renowned Takács Quartet, offers a rare peek inside the workings of his ensemble, while providing an insightful history of the compositions and their performance.

Founded in Hungary in 1975 and now based in Boulder, Colorado, the Takács is one of the world’s preeminent string quartets, and performances of Beethoven have been at the center of their work together for over forty years. Using the history of both the Takács Quartet and the Beethoven quartets as a foundation, Beethoven for a Later Age provides a backstage look at the daily life of a quartet, showing the necessary creative tension between individual and group and how four people can at the same time forge a lasting artistic connection and enjoy making music together over decades. The key, Dusinberre reveals, to a quartet crafting its own sound is in balancing continuity with change and experimentation—a theme that lies at the heart of Beethoven’s remarkable compositions. In an accessible style, suitable for novices and chamber music enthusiasts alike, Dusinberre illuminates the variety and contradictions of Beethoven's quartets, which were composed against the turbulent backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath, and he brings the technical aspects of the music to life.

Beethoven for a Later Age vividly shows that creative engagement with Beethoven’s radical and brilliant quartets continues to be as stimulating now as it was for its first performers and audiences. Musicians and music lovers will be intrigued by Dusinberre’s exploration of the close collaboration at the heart of any great performance.
 
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Beethoven in Beijing
Stories from the Philadelphia Orchestra's Historic Journey to China
Jennifer Lin
Temple University Press, 2022

In 1973, Western music was banned in the People’s Republic of China. But in a remarkable breakthrough cultural exchange, the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted a tour of closed-off China, becoming the first American orchestra to visit the communist nation. Jennifer Lin’s Beethoven in Beijing provides a fabulous photo-rich oral history of this boundary-breaking series of concerts the orchestra performed under famed conductor Eugene Ormandy.

Lin draws from interviews, personal diaries, and news accounts to give voice to the American and Chinese musicians, diplomats, journalists, and others who participated in and witnessed this historic event. Beethoven in Beijing is filled with glorious images as well as anecdotes ranging from amusing sidewalk Frisbee sessions and acupuncture treatments for sore musicians to a tense encounter involving Madame Mao dictating which symphony was to be played at a concert. 

A companion volume to the film of the same name, Beethoven in Beijing shows how this 1973 tour came at the dawn of a resurgence of interest in classical music in China—now a vital source of revenue for touring orchestras.

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Beethoven
Studies in the Creative Processes
Lewis Lockwood
Harvard University Press, 1992

It is well known that Mozart developed his works in his head and then simply transcribed them onto paper, while Beethoven labored assiduously over sketches and drafts--"his first ideas," in Stephen Spender's words, "of a clumsiness which makes scholars marvel at how he could, at the end, have developed from them such miraculous results." Indeed Beethoven's extensive sketchbooks (which total over 8,000 pages) and the autograph manuscripts, covering several stages of development, reveal the composer systematically exploring and evolving his musical ideas.

Through close investigation of individual works, Lewis Lockwood traces the creative process as it emerges in Beethoven's sketches and manuscripts. Four studies address the composition of the Eroica Symphony from various viewpoints. The chamber works discussed include the Cello Sonata in A Major, Opus 69 (of which the entire autograph manuscript of the first movement is published here in facsimile), the string quartet Opus 59 No. 1, and the Cavatina of the later quartet Opus 130. Lockwood's lucid analysis enhances our understanding of Beethoven's musical strategies and stylistic developments as well as the compositional process itself In a final chapter the author outlines the importance of Beethoven's autographs for the modern performer.

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The Beethoven Violin Sonatas
History, Criticism, Performance
Edited by Lewis Lockwood and Mark Kroll
University of Illinois Press, 2004
Beethoven's ten violin sonatas have long been cornerstones of the chamber music repertoire. The "Spring" and "Kreutzer" sonatas are the best known of these works, which stand at the pinnacle of music for violin and piano.
 
Lewis Lockwood and Mark Kroll's volume The Beethoven Violin Sonatas is the first scholarly book in English devoted exclusively to the Beethoven sonatas, and deals with them in unprecedented depth. It presents seven critical and historical essays by some of the most important American and European Beethoven specialists of our time. The authors examine the sonatas within the history of the genre, the social and cultural context in which they were written, their significance within Beethoven's life and works, and the issues they raise regarding performance practices of the period.
 
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Beethoven's Ninth
A Political History
Esteban Buch
University of Chicago Press, 2003
Who hasn't been stirred by the strains of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony? That's a good question, claims Esteban Buch. German nationalists and French republicans, communists and Catholics have all, in the course of history, embraced the piece. It was performed under the direction of Leonard Bernstein at a concert to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall, yet it also serves as a ghastly and ironic leitmotif in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Hitler celebrated his birthdays with it, and the government of Rhodesia made it their anthem. And played in German concentration camps by the imprisoned, it also figured prominently at Mitterand's 1981 investiture.

In his remarkable history of one of the most popular symphonic works of the modern period, Buch traces such complex and contradictory uses—and abuses—of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony since its premier in 1824. Buch shows that Beethoven consciously drew on the tradition of European political music, with its mix of sacred and profane, military and religious themes, when he composed his symphony. But while Beethoven obviously had his own political aspirations for the piece—he wanted it to make a statement about ideal power—he could not have had any idea of the antithetical political uses, nationalist and universalist, to which the Ninth Symphony has been put since its creation. Buch shows us how the symphony has been "deployed" throughout nearly two centuries, and in the course of this exploration offers what was described by one French reviewer as "a fundamental examination of the moral value of art." Sensitive and fascinating, this account of the tangled political existence of a symphony is a rare book that shows the life of an artwork through time, shifted and realigned with the currents of history.
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Beethoven's Symphonies
Nine Approaches to Art and Ideas
Martin Geck
University of Chicago Press, 2017
In the years spanning from 1800 to 1824, Ludwig van Beethoven completed nine symphonies, now considered among the greatest masterpieces of Western music. Yet despite the fact that this time period, located in the wake of the Enlightenment and at the peak of romanticism, was one of rich intellectual exploration and social change, the influence of such threads of thought on Beethoven’s work has until now remained hidden beneath the surface of the notes. Beethoven’s Symphonies presents a fresh look at the great composer’s approach and the ideas that moved him, offering a lively account of the major themes unifying his radically diverse output.

Martin Geck opens the book with an enthralling series of cultural, political, and musical motifs that run throughout the symphonies. A leading theme is Beethoven’s intense intellectual and emotional engagement with the figure of Napoleon, an engagement that survived even Beethoven’s disappointment with Napoleon’s decision to be crowned emperor in 1804. Geck also delves into the unique ways in which Beethoven approached beginnings and finales in his symphonies, as well as his innovative use of particular instruments. He then turns to the individual symphonies, tracing elements—a pitch, a chord, a musical theme—that offer a new way of thinking about each work and will make even the most devoted fans of Beethoven admire the symphonies anew.

Offering refreshingly inventive readings of the work of one of history’s greatest composers, this book shapes a fascinating picture of the symphonies as a cohesive oeuvre and of Beethoven as a master symphonist.
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Berlioz
D. Kern Holoman
Harvard University Press, 1989

For three decades, beginning with the Symphonie fantastique composed in 1830, Hector Berlioz and his music embodied the élan and exuberance of the Romantic era. This captivating and sumptuously illustrated biography is not only a complete account of Berlioz’s life, but an acute analysis of his compositions and description of his work as conductor and critic, as well as a vivid picture of his musical world.

D. Kern Holoman paints a full-length portrait of Berlioz: his personal and family life, his intellectual development and pursuits, his methods of composing (Berlioz at his work table, so to speak), the aim and style of his music criticism and travel writing, his innovations in staging and conducting performances, and his interaction with other composers, including Liszt, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Schumann, Glinka, Brahms, Verdi, Saint-Saëns, Gounod. In discussing Berlioz’s music, Holoman talks about specific techniques, takes note of influences and borrowings, and analyzes the concept of programmatic music developed in Symphonie fantastique, Harold in Italy, Romeo and Juliet, and The Damnation of Faust.

While following Berlioz’s career, we get a rich sense of the world in which he moved. We see the requirements and excitements of foreign concert tours, the music publishing and instrument-making businesses, the development of the modern concept of orchestral conducting, the use of newspapers for publicity, the composer’s working relations with impresarios and soloists.

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Berlioz and His Century
An Introduction to the Age of Romanticism
Jacques Barzun
University of Chicago Press, 1982
In this abridgment of his monumental study, Berlioz and the Romantic Century, Jacques Barzun recounts the events and extraordinary achievements of the great composer's life against the background of the romantic era. As the author eloquently demonstrates, Berloiz was an archetype whose destiny was the story of an age, the incarnation of an artistic style and a historical spirit. "In order to understand the nineteenth century, it is essential to understand Berlioz," notes W. H. Auden, "and in order to understand Berlioz, it is essential to read Professor Barzun."
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Berlioz and His World
Edited by Francesca Brittan and Sarah Hibberd
University of Chicago Press, 2024
A collection of essays and short object lessons on the composer Hector Berlioz, published in collaboration with the Bard Music Festival.

Hector Berlioz (1803–1869) has long been a difficult figure to place and interpret. Famously, in Richard Wagner’s estimation, he hovered as a “transient, marvelous exception,” a composer woefully and willfully isolated. In the assessment of German composer Ferdinand Hiller, he was a fleeting comet who “does not belong in our musical solar system,” the likes of whom would never be seen again. For his contemporaries, as for later critics, Berlioz was simply too strange—and too noisy, too loud, too German, too literary, too cavalier with genre and form, and too difficult to analyze. He was, in many ways, a composer without a world.

Berlioz and His World takes a deep dive into the composer’s complex legacy, tracing lines between his musical and literary output and the scientific, sociological, technological, and political influences that shaped him. Comprising nine essays covering key facets of Berlioz’s contribution and six short “object lessons” meant as conversation starters, the book reveals Berlioz as a richly intersectional figure. His very difficulty, his tendency to straddle the worlds of composer, conductor, and critic, is revealed as a strength, inviting new lines of cross-disciplinary inquiry and a fresh look at his European and American reception. 
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Beyond Bach
Music and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century
Andrew Talle
University of Illinois Press, 2018
Reverence for J. S. Bach's music and its towering presence in our cultural memory have long affected how people hear his works. In his own time, however, Bach stood as just another figure among a number of composers, many of them more popular with the music-loving public. Eschewing the great composer style of music history, Andrew Talle takes us on a journey that looks at how ordinary people made music in Bach's Germany. Talle focuses in particular on the culture of keyboard playing as lived in public and private. As he ranges through a wealth of documents, instruments, diaries, account ledgers, and works of art, Talle brings a fascinating cast of characters to life. These individuals--amateur and professional performers, patrons, instrument builders, and listeners--inhabited a lost world, and Talle's deft expertise teases out the diverse roles music played in their lives and in their relationships with one another. At the same time, his nuanced recreation of keyboard playing's social milieu illuminates the era's reception of Bach's immortal works.
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Bound for America
Three British Composers
Nicholas Temperley
University of Illinois Press, 2002
Nicholas Temperley documents the lives, careers, and music of three British composers who emigrated from England in mid-career and became leaders in the musical life of the early United States. William Selby of London and Boston (1738-98), Rayner Taylor of London and Philadelphia (1745-1825), and George K. Jackson of London, New York, and Boston (1757-1822) were among the first trained professional composers to make their home in America and to pioneer the building of an art music tradition in the New World akin to the esteemed European classical music. Why, in middle age, would they emigrate and start over in uncertain and unfavorable conditions? How did the new environment affect them personally and musically? Temperley compares their lives, careers, and compositional styles in the two countries and reflects on American musical nationalism and the changing emphasis in American musical historiography.
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front cover of Brahms and the German Spirit
Brahms and the German Spirit
Daniel Beller-McKenna
Harvard University Press, 2004

The music of Johannes Brahms is deeply colored, Daniel Beller-McKenna shows, by nineteenth-century German nationalism and by Lutheran religion. Focusing on the composer's choral works, the author offers new insight on the cultural grounding for Brahms's music.

Music historians have been reluctant to address Brahms's Germanness, wary perhaps of fascist implications. Beller-McKenna counters this tendency; by giving an account of the intertwining of nationalism, politics, and religion that underlies major works, he restores Brahms to his place in nineteenth-century German culture. The author explores Brahms's interest in the folk element in old church music; the intense national pride expressed in works such as the Triumphlied; the ways Luther's Bible and Lutheranism are reflected in Brahms's music; and the composer's ideas about nation building. The final chapter looks at Brahms's nationalistic image as employed by the National Socialists, 1933-1945, and as witnessed earlier in the century (including the complication of rumors that Brahms was Jewish).

In comparison to the overtly nationalist element in Wagner's music, the German elements in Brahms's style have been easy to overlook. This nuanced study uncovers those nationalistic elements, enriching our understanding both of Brahms's art and of German culture.

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